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Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 22:15 GMT
'Cover-up' in Iran murder trial
The trial has beeen conducted behind closed doors
The trial has beeen conducted behind closed doors
There have been more admissions of guilt at the trial in Iran of several people accused of murdering dissidents and intellectuals, in a case that has caused a huge political scandal.

But the families of the victims have been boycotting the hearings, which they believed are designed to conceal the fact that the real responsibility goes far higher than those on trial.

The defendants include former officials of the Iranian intelligence ministry, who have admitted ordering the killings.

All but two of the 18 accused have now pleaded guilty to involvement in the murders two years ago.

But the BBC Tehran correspondent says little else has emerged from the closed military tribunal.

Two leading investigative journalists, who blamed high political and clerical circles for scores of killings over the previous decade, have been jailed for their disclosures.

Akbar Ganji's supporters
Support for key witness Akbar Ganji - now in jail
The trial, which began two weeks ago and is now nearing its end, is taking place behind closed doors.

The ninth session of this highly unusual trial saw the final three of the 18 accused plead guilty to the charge of complicity in the killing of one or several of the four dissident writers and intellectuals who were brutally murdered in 1998.

Orders

Two former senior officials of the intelligence ministry are accused of actually ordering the killings which they admitted.

Three others confessed to carrying out the murders on those orders. The remainder were all charged as accomplices.

Relatives seek truth

Relatives of the dead want full disclosure of all the ramifications of the case.

They are convinced that the real responsibility goes higher than those appearing in the dock.

Pro-reform demonstration
The case has come to symbolise the reformists' struggle
Mostafa Kazemi, the senior of the two former officials who admitted ordering the murders, is officially reported to have taken responsibility for that decision.

But his accomplice, Mehrdad Alikhani, described it as a collective move.

In further sessions the prosecution is to restate its case and the final defences will be offered.

The bombshell announcement in January 1999 that intelligence ministry officials were involved in the murders caused a huge and continuing political scandal here and led to a ministerial resignation.

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See also:

02 Jan 01 | Middle East
Iran murder trial: Four confess
30 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iranian journalist names names
29 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iranian reformist trials to reopen
28 Nov 00 | Middle East
Iran bans popular youth title
09 Nov 00 | Middle East
Uproar as Iran judge accused
19 Jul 00 | Middle East
Iran timeline
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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